This week I had the opportunity to present to a few groups at work on balance and boundaries. The gist of the presentation was self-care is more than another item on your to-do list (pedicures, early morning workouts, diet), but instead it is the internal hard work of setting boundaries and saying no. The presentations were based on a fantastic article by Dr. Pooja Lakshmin and a wellness model developed by Dr. Jane Myers and Dr. Tom Sweeney (Dr. Myers was my dissertation chair who I miss more than I could have imagined). I love this work and was fortunate our superintendent attended part of one of the presentations.
This morning as I was walking into work, our superintendent said hello and stopped to ask me a question. He said, “Who is taking care of you?” I immediately started to explain my support and he stopped me. He stated it was a rhetorical question, but was wondering since I take care of so many. As I walked away my mind started to think about his question… and my mind has not stopped the entire day.
I am an introvert. I hate large parties and small talk makes me nauseous. I often joke in presentations I only have two friends at a time… and it honestly it isn’t far from the truth. Also, I am slow to let people into the innermost parts of my life… this spot is reserved for a select few… in this place is my ability to show my imperfections, my struggles, my weakness… with these selection few, is the place where I am completely vulnerable, but also the place where I trust. Getting to this place is not a fast process for me but once I find the people in this place, I don’t let them go… although this group has changed over the course of my life.
I realized reflecting on the question of “who is taking care of you,” how hard it is to let someone take care of you. We live in a society where the idea of needing help is a weakness and success is being 100% independent. If I am honest, it took almost two years of counseling with a remarkable counselor in NC to be comfortable with needing help and letting others into the sacredness of my vulnerability. Those two years were some of the hardest work I have done in my life, but I am beyond thankful I am on the other side and allow a few to take care of me.
So often we blame others when we need to be taken care of… we say others are not there, or don’t care… I honestly think most of the time we set ourselves up for this disappointment, although we rarely are conscious of such a decision. We push people away and aren’t willing to let them see our struggles, but yet we want them to magically appear when we need them…. this thinking is not fair to them and it is not fair to us. We say we don’t need help, yet long for someone by our side in through the struggles and darkness.
I am thankful for my innermost circle of friends who know me, love me, and take care of me. I love these women like family and cherish their desire to live life in an authentic and real way… knowing our friendship isn’t based on Instagram posts, but is in the honest and real conversations. It is in the moments when we share our struggles, frustrations, heartaches, and joys… the relationships aren’t about keeping score, but about love and honesty.
There are two individuals who take care of me in a way I can never express completely. My sister is the one individual who knows every part of my soul since 1979 and still loves me unconditionally and fully. She is there when I need rest and challenges me to live my best self.
Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In talks about one thing all successful women have in common… a supportive spouse. When I married Matthew I knew I wanted life with him, but I had not clue how much he would not only love me but take care of me (not in a the he is my knight in shining armor kind of way). He supports not only me but also my passion, my heart, my mission in life. There is no way I could be doing life without his daily, hourly support. Not only does he support me, but he has taught our son what it means to be supportive.
I appreciate those who take care of me… I am thankful for the journey that got me to the place where I not only am ok, but fully want to let others into the innermost parts of my life… for I really believe it is only when we get to this place are we truly living life.